Archive for Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Future Jayhawks sizzle

March 29, 2005


— Kansas University fans would have been in men's basketball paradise at one sight during Monday morning's practice session for the McDonald's All-America Game.

During a 3-on-2 fast-break drill, the KU signee trio of Mario Chalmers, Micah Downs and Julian Wright was grouped together, and provided some fireworks.

Among the highlights were a no-look alley-oop from Chalmers to Downs, and Wright executing one of the morning's most head-turning slams. After a steal, Wright went up, cocked the ball back behind his head with his left hand, and thundered it home.

The West squad spent the final 30 minutes of the practice running mini-scrimmages where both Chalmers and Wright continued to display their defensive tenacity, but it was Downs who made an outstanding block on Washington-bound shooting guard Martell Webster on a fast break. He was whistled for a questionable foul, but the play was impressive nonetheless.

Wright struggled a little bit with his still-developing mid-range jumper, but was great in terms of getting his teammates involved.

Downs showed some hesitation on the offensive end early, but grew more aggressive as the day went on. He capped the scrimmage with a beautiful move on Mississippi State recruit Monta Ellis, who many believe to be the top shooting guard in this year's class.

Downs, on the right wing, faked to his left, blew past Ellis on the baseline and made a nice up-and-under layin.

Both Downs and Chalmers also showed some nice touch on their outside shots.

The star of the West scrimmage was Poplar Bluff, Mo., native Tyler Hansbrough, who will play at North Carolina next season. Hansbrough was a monster on the glass, showed some nice post moves and patience on offense and earned repeated trips to the free-throw line, where he didn't miss.

Kansas University signee Micah Downs competes during the POWERade
Slam Dunk competition. He didn't make it out of the preliminary
round Monday night in South Bend, Ind.

Kansas University signee Micah Downs competes during the POWERade Slam Dunk competition. He didn't make it out of the preliminary round Monday night in South Bend, Ind.

The players will practice again this morning at Indiana University-South Bend, and then have a scrimmage in the afternoon at Notre Dame's Joyce Center, where the game will be played Wednesday night.

  • Beyond basketball: Sunday, the 48 boys and girls All-Americans made a visit to the Ronald McDonald room of the South Bend Memorial Hospital, which provides comfort to the families of young patients.

"Ronald McDonald House was really cool, seeing all those little kids," Downs said. "It makes you really appreciate life and really appreciate that God's given to you what you got."

  • Coach's comments: Rhodes has been impressed by the future Jayhawks. Also, he has the three on the same playing rotation both in practice and in the game, and has liked what he's seen of them working together.

"(Chalmers) looks like an excellent basketball player in terms of his decision-making on the floor," the coach said. "Micah is surprisingly a great athlete, and he's assertive. He had a couple of dunks in practice today that were great, but he combines that with his outside shooting touch. Julian, I like the way he thinks about the game, and he's gonna fit real well into the Kansas system.

"I think all three have a lot of potential to help the Jayhawks."

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